I can't believe we're about to begin our fifth year of homeschool! My word, it goes fast. Having not begun until 6th grade for each of our boys, my journey will only be a grand total of eight years (they're a year apart, grade-wise). In the beginning, I remember listening to people who'd homeschooled longer than me and thinking that I couldn't fathom being that far into this. It appeared much longer than it really is. I'm right at the half-way mark of this season of my life. Three more years with ClayGuy and four with the Comedian.
How I think homeschool should look - organized, attentive, and color-coordinated.
By the end of each year, I usually feel as if I did a pretty crummy job. Thus the Slacker Middle School references. Somehow, it's too often human nature (and maybe mom nature) to see the worst because we know what we should have or could have done. I only include others, because I've heard too many similar stories.
How homeschool usually looks!
Not to excuse my own poor choices, but one thing you learn quickly about homeschooling is that life still happens. And sometimes it impedes upon your school plans. The first year of homeschooling (2005-06), we moved out of our house of 11 1/2 years (October). I also had one child in public school and one home with me. Being my first homeschool year, I was just trying to find my way in this new phase of life. ClayGuy and I had both educational fun and serious tempers and head-butting. While moving didn't take the entire year, when things get off-track early on, it can be a challenge to recover that ground.
The second year (2006-07) brought my youngest son home. I was to discover that his learning style and perspectives are completely different than mine or ClayGuy's. That, in and of itself, presented some challenges. Add to that the oftentimes poor interaction between the two of them and my need to referee, and there were days when it seemed as if we did nothing more than deal with behavioral issues.
That year there was also an outside commitment that quickly became an over-commitment. I found myself entrenched in something that bumped homeschooling off the top of the priority list, which was incredibly frustrating and guilt-inducing.
In our third year (2007-08), we got off to a pretty decent start. Once we passed the holidays, however, we made the decision to start looking for a house to buy (part 1 and part 2). I have no idea how many houses we looked at, but we made seven offers. It was a long year. Of course, when you're planning to move, you also have to plan on packing. So in addition to school, regular life, and house hunting, I was now purging stuff (so we'd hopefully have less to move) and packing. We still had no contract going into summer, so this continued.
Our most recent year (2008-09) found us still house hunting and eventually moving in September. Obviously that does put a dent in the school plans. No matter how good your intentions are, they just don't pan out the way you anticipate. On a good note, I think my boys learned something about teamwork, lifting, moving, organizing, and such. Again, it didn't waylay the entire year, but it significantly altered life. In addition to getting out of the old house, there's so much to do when you arrive at the new house. And then the holidays arrive. And then you find that it's January and you're finally getting back on track.
I don't say this to be depressing or excuse away the times that I didn't do what I should have, but it's more a reminder that life will happen. I know there are others who had even more significant disruptions. But as I begin planning the upcoming school year (2009-10), I need to remember this. I need to schedule some downtime here and there. I need to cut myself a little slack sometimes, recognizing that not everything will go according to my plans. While that can be more than a little frustrating for a control freak like me, I am comforted by the fact that I know and serve the God who does have everything under control. He's not surprised by these life events. My future is safe in His hands. I need to not be stressed out when they happen, but trust in and seek Him and what He would have us do.
A man's heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.